After securing funding from an overseas investor, MVP RV turned the lights back on at its Moreno Valley, Calif., factory and began building trailers a few weeks ago with 55 workers, slowly paying back debts one at a time, according to the Riverside Press-Enterprise.
“Everybody is driving with their brakes on,” said CEO and President Brad Williams, referring to the calculated approach the company is taking to increase production and pay suppliers and contact dealerships.
The company isn’t currently hiring or accepting applications, he said.
On Friday (March 26), he had two pages of trailer orders on his desk.
Gary and Dottie Williams, of Hawthorne — no relation to Brad Williams — ordered the company’s Summit travel trailer in April 2009. Nearly a year later, Gary Williams still has a deposit on the trailer through Giant RV and expects it to be delivered soon.
“I didn’t mind waiting,” he said. “If you wait and it’s something you really like, it’s worth the wait.”
Williams shut down MVP RV’s plant in the middle of 2009. Lacking capital, the company first tried merging with competitors and then sought loans from banks. Neither proved successful, so the company went overseas looking for investors.
The company considered bankruptcy, but didn’t want to “go out like that,” said Roger Humeston, CFO and chief administrative officer. Humeston said he explained to investors that the RV industry was bound to “come back with a vengeance.”
While looking for funding for their RV operations, they encountered CT&T, a South Korean firm interested in making small electric vehicles in the Unites States.
The idea of MVP-EV was born. Executives of both companies announced a partnership in September that would have MVP build CT&T’s cars, but not before MVP raised investment capital to reopen the Moreno Valley plant and retrofit the facility to make electric vehicles.
Unable to secure funding, the plan to build CT&T’s vehicles has hit a “plateau,” Williams said. The agreement between the two companies doesn’t preclude CT&T from partnering with another West coast manufacturer, he said.
Giant RV, the largest RV dealership on the West Coast (second largest in the country), has become a full line Damon Motor Coach dealer.
“We are excited about the Damon lineup,” said Dick Torres, general manager of Giant RV. “They are a good fit for many reasons.”
Damon, a division of Thor Industries, added Thor Motorized Services (TMS) this past year and the new commitment to back-end support has attracted attention, according to a news release.
“Damon has always been known for a high level of quality, exceptional fit-and-finish, and a full line of Class A motorhomes. Plus their management team and programs like T.M.S. helped make it an easy decision,” Torres added.
Giant RV has three locations in Southern California according to Matt Thompson, Damon’s vice president and general manager. “They are an aggressive organization — they’ve weathered the economic downturn and are in a good position to grow,” Thompson said. “We worked hard to sign them and we’ll work even harder to make sure our products turn.”
Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Statistical Surveys Inc. ranked Camping World Inc., with 77 stores nationwide, the No. 1 dealer of motorhomes, towables and combined towables and motorhomes in the U.S. for calendar year 2008.
The Top 5 dealers in each category, for the most past, were represented by the same companies as 2007 with some changes in ranking. Crestview RV Center in Buda, Texas, was the only newcomer, moving to fifth spot in the trailer group.
The top five retailers in trailers, motorhomes and combined categories for 2008 are:
• Combined trailers and motorhomes: Camping World, Lincolnshire, Ill.; General RV Center, Detroit, Mich.; Lazydays RV Center Inc., Seffner, Fla.; Fun Time RV Sales, Keene, Texas; Giant RV Montclair, Calif.
• Motorhomes: Camping World, Lazydays, General RV, Giant RV, Mike Thompsons RV, Santa Fe Springs, Calif.
• Trailers: Camping World, General RV, Fun Time RV, Giant RV, Crestview RV Center.